Just What You Have Been Waiting For: A NACD Coach!

by Ellen Doman

SECRETS-REVEALEDAt this time of year in particular, we are all wondering how to get everything done that needs to be done. We need to be able to prioritize and strategize to prevent important things, such as our children’s progress, from backsliding. In NACD’s continuing effort to give parents the tools they need to help their children succeed, we will be providing each family with an NACD coach starting in the first quarter of the new year (immediately for new families). You’ve seen our questions in your e-mail. You’ve wondered about them. Who’s going to help you? Your NACD coach is going to help you!

Why are we using coaches? A coach helps to provide structure, solutions, time frames, goal setting, encouragement and redirection. After decades of working with families, we have seen what problems and issues parents confront. It has been obvious that parents need more help in two areas: scheduling and short-term goals.

Parents need help getting their time organized. As we look at parents transporting their children to various activities and errands, dealing with school days, whether in school or school at home, we know that each day can be cluttered with countless tasks and to-do lists. Often parents add many other activities to their children’s day and are unsure which are worth doing and which are not. To assist in making order out of relative chaos, the NACD coach, in an initial phone meeting, will look at your daily schedule and weekly obligations and assist in organizing and prioritizing so that your program is accomplished at the most opportune times of the day for you and your child. Your coach will be helping you with this when you get your new program. Think of it, a written schedule that works.

Next your coach will be meeting with you at set appointment times over the phone to set and review outcomes of short-term goals. This is a key function of the coach. Every time you have a phone meeting with your coach, you will be setting up short-term goals. Goals may include things like getting a particular activity done at 100%, completing a specific book, or some other goal that is important to your child’s success. Your coach will then follow up with an e-mail stating what the goals are and when the next meeting is. Each time you have a phone meeting, you and your coach will be reviewing the previous goals and setting up new ones. This will help to keep you focused and on track. Your coach will be there to give you the praise and encouragement that you need.

Your coach will also be there to help you problem-solve. Again, this is an essential part of helping you achieve greater success with your child. What kind of problems can you bring to the coach? You can talk to your coach about all kinds of issues, such as not being able to find picture cards, not being able to get a spouse or siblings to help, or even behavior and cooperation issues. Your coach will assist you in clearly defining a problem and in developing a clear game plan for resolving that problem. The coach will then e-mail you the plan that has been agreed upon, which will be reviewed at the next phone meeting. It may be just what you needed to overcome obstacles to your child’s success. Many of us spend lots of time talking about problems but little or no time resolving them. The coach will help you find solutions and then follow up with you so that they are resolved.

Needless to say, your coach will be working in conjunction with your evaluator any time program changes are needed. Your program is not an IEP. It is a fluid design, able to be changed as needed to help your child achieve success as rapidly as possible. Our ability to keep adjusting the program to produce the best progress is dependent upon good implementation of the program and feedback on how each activity has worked. With the help of your coach, you will be better able to stay on track.

We are truly excited about providing coaches. We all feel on track at the end of an evaluation, with issues clearly defined and a game plan to achieve success. In between evaluations, all too often life intervenes and things get off track. A coach who will help you stay on track, applaud your success on short-term goals, and help you solve problems as they arise will make the time between the evaluations more productive. We expect success. In order to achieve that, you will soon have a coach to help you meet those goals. What a great way to start a new year–potentially your child’s best year yet!

Reprinted by permission of The NACD Foundation, Volume 22 No. 15, 2009 ©NACD

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